If you are planning a trip but want to avoid the crowds, there are several places on earth that are still (relatively) untouched by tourism. These island and landlocked nations feature beautiful vistas, abundant sea and jungle life as well as locals who have not yet been jaded by flocks of visitors.
Off-the-beaten-path countries and territories provide numerous enriching and enjoyable experiences. Whether you enjoy kicking back with a bottle of wine or prefer scuba diving among sea turtles, check out these lesser-known vacation spots around the world.
Swim With Humpback Whales In Niue
About 10,000 visitors went to the Polynesian island Niue in 2017. In addition to beautiful seas and soft sand, its coastline is also jam-packed with caves. But one of the best parts is the humpback whales that gather near the island from July through October.
Niue is one of the world's smallest countries but one of the best places to swim with humpback whales, which use the waters as a nursery. You can even see their magnificence from the shores if you prefer to stay dry.
Anguilla Is Much Less Crowded Than Other Caribbean Islands
Some of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches are located in Anguilla, a British territory that hosted around 68,000 tourists in 2017. The country restricts tourists to high-end resorts, so there's not as many visitors compared to other islands in the area, which are becoming increasingly developed.
While visiting isn't cheap, you are rewarded with beaches that have fewer crowds. The country only has 33 resorts for visitors, and it's well worth the trip if you prefer quieter island nations.
Tuvalu Is One Of The World's Most Isolated Countries
Only 2,000 tourists visited Tuvalu in 2017. The South Pacific country features more than 100 little islands and is one of the most isolated countries in the world. Visitors arrive on the main island, Funafuti, and visit the other islands by using ferries.
Unfortunately, the country is having problems with rising sea levels, which is putting its beautiful powder sugared beaches in harm's way. Visit soon to visit the beautiful coral reefs while you still have the chance.
See Kiribati Soon Because Sea Levels Are Rapidly Rising
Around 6,000 tourists from around the world visited Kiribati in 2016. Located in the central Pacific, the country is full of islands and atolls classified into three groups: the Gilbert, Phoenix, and Line Islands. The country is very isolated, yet its people are very hospitable and frequently invite visitors to dine with them.
These local feasts often feature dancers, drumming, and meals prepared with taro and coconut. Unfortunately, the sea level is rising about half an inch each year, which is problematic since the islands themselves are only a few feet above sea level.
Scuba Dive Among Shipwrecks In The Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands welcomed around 6,000 international visitors in 2017. You may be familiar with the Marshall Islands' Bikini Atoll, which was used by the United States for nuclear testing decades ago. While the island itself is still radioactive, the area is one of the most spectacular places to go scuba diving.
Divers get to see the USS Saratoga alongside several other shipwrecks. The Saratoga was used for nuclear target practice after the Battle of Iwo Jima. The ships are covered in coral reefs and feature large numbers of fish swimming among the bombs that are still encased in the metal decks.
San Marino Is Europe's Least-Visited Country
San Marino is one of the world's oldest republics and drew about 78,000 tourists in 2017. The capital, also called San Marino, is speckled with narrow cobblestone streets and a medieval wall. The city features three historic towers/citadels that date back to the 11th century.
The country, which is located on the slopes of Mount Titano on the Adriatic side of Italy, is very picturesque. If you visit Europe's least-visited country, you will be exposed to some beautiful views.
Montserrat Still Shows The Effects Of A Volcanic Eruption
Montserrat received about 8,000 visitors from around the world in 2017. The Caribbean island is stunning and features green hills and a volcano, which is responsible for its incredible landscape. During the '90s, an eruption buried the capital, Plymouth, in ash. Tourists often take a ferry from nearby Antigua to see the effects of the volcano.
The island features beaches that were created from the crumbling stone of the volcano as well as a 17th-century church that is now gray from the ash. It also features the ruins of a grand hotel.
American Samoa Is Great For Fishing And Observing The Endangered Fruit Bat
While 20,000 tourists visited American Samoa in 2017, not many people get to experience its crystal-clear water. American Samoa's group of islands in the South Pacific is the only U.S. territory located in the Southern hemisphere. Sea lovers enjoy fishing for tuna and marlin, while canoeists love hanging out in Pago Pago Harbor.
The country is also known for its forests that host fruit bats with wingspans as long as three feet. These animals are endangered, so see them now before they disappear.
Liechtenstein Is Particularly Picturesque
This German-speaking country is located between Austria and Switzerland and welcomed 79,000 visitors in 2017. One of the unique characteristics of this landlocked nation is that it is only one of two (alongside Uzbekistan) that's entirely surrounded by other landlocked nations.
Still, even without a seacoast, the country has great hiking trails and vineyards as well as plenty of castles to explore. One of its most picturesque is the Gutenberg Castle in the village of Balzers.
The Solomon Islands Contain Relics From WWII
Located in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands welcomed 26,000 tourists in 2017. While the Marines who inhabited the island during World War II are long gone, the jungles still contain many of the abandoned amphibious vehicles and fox holes that the U.S. military brought and created during the conflict.
The ocean is particularly interesting for scuba divers, who can see sunken seaplanes, tankers, and submarines that are now rusted and covered in coral. If you're a history buff, the Solomon Islands should be on your travel list.
While Dangerous In Some Areas, Eritrea Is A Beautiful Destination
The African country Eritrea is situated on the Red Sea coast and sees about 150,000 visitors a year. The capital city, Asmara, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features Italian colonial buildings and Art Deco structures. Points of interest include St. Mariam Cathedral and the Imperial Palace.
Security experts recommend staying away from its land borders, but it's a great place for scuba diving, for foodies, and those who are interested in different cultural experiences.
Comoros Is Famous For Its Floral-Scented Breezes
The islands of Comoros, also known as the "Perfume Isles," received 28,000 visitors in 2017. The country is located between Madagascar and Mozambique and is famous for its perfumed air. The ylang-ylang tree is partially responsible for the aroma, which has been cultivated by islanders since the French colonial era.
If you love the smell of jasmine, vanilla, lemongrass, and other scents, you won't be disappointed. More people opt to go to Seychelles instead; however, Comoros has beaches and clear water that are just as beautiful, with much fewer travelers.
Tonga's Volcanic Coastline Is Spectacular
The South Pacific island group Tonga had over 62,000 tourists in 2017. The country is defined by its incredible coastline, which is covered in sharp volcanic rock. Crashing waves fill the hollow channels and shoot seawater up into the air through blowholes, which creates an amazing show for visitors.
Islanders welcome visitors with traditional feasts and homegrown hospitality. The country also has secret beaches and trees inhabited by flying foxes. If you're looking for a tropical escape, look no further.
Sea Life Is Abundant In New Caledonia
The French have dozens of territorial islands in the South Pacific known as New Caledonia, which receives an average of 121,000 visitors a year. The various lagoons are popular among sailors, swimmers, and snorkelers. There is a lot of sea life to discover, including sharks and sea turtles.
The waters are also home to the dugong, which is related to the manatee. Since 95 percent of the waters are protected, sea life is abundant. It's also much easier to access from New Zealand and Australia than the Pacific Islands.
Djibouti's Alien Landscape Is A Huge Draw
Each year, around 60,000 visitors travel to Djibouti, located in East Africa near the Gulf of Aden. The biggest draw for tourists is the unusual landscape. Its white salt beaches on Lake Assal are stunning, and if that's not enough there's also the Ardoukoba Volcano.
The country is a popular place for scuba diving among the coral reefs and sea life or kayaking in the Gulf of Tadjoura, which is among the world's most pristine bodies of water. While the environment is harsh, it is also stunning to see.
São Tomé and Príncipe Is A Biodiversity Mecca
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are located in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea. Just less than 30,000 people visited the jungle country in 2016, which is known for its beautiful plants, such as orchids, and animal life, which includes several species of colorful birds.
The main island is São Tomé and the smaller, Príncipe, is volcanic. It has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where researchers continually discover new species of frogs, owls, and other animals.
Moldova Is A Hot Spot For Wine Lovers
The Eastern European country Moldova has some of the most visitors on our list with about 150,000 tourists a year. It's famous for its wine regions that include Nistreana and Codru, which has some of the largest cellars in the world. The country has been in the wine business for 5,000 years or more.
The country produces several varieties of wines and is a great place to celebrate National Wine Day with the locals. Despite being called the world's least happy place in a 2008 book, the country is emerging as a favorite spot off the beaten path.
St. Vincent And The Grenadines Is More Accessible Than Ever
The Caribbean island chain St. Vincent and the Grenadines had 76,000 visitors in 2017, the same year an international airport opened in the country. Previously, it was only accessible to cruisers and passengers on private yachts.
The country features several high-end resorts in Canouan as well as some stunning barrier reefs that are great to explore when snorkeling or scuba diving. If you are on a budget, Union features the Happy Island bar that's built on top of a conch shell foundation.
Dominica Features The Caribbean's Longest Hiking Trail
Dominica is a mountainous Caribbean island with nine active volcanoes nestled in the jungle. About 79,000 people visit the island nation each year, largely to hike the Caribbean's longest trail, the Waitukubuli. It is 115 miles long and winds around steep and muddy terrain from one coast to the other.
You can hike part of the trail or the whole thing or visit the capital on the west of the island, which has bright timber houses and botanic gardens. The island is also great for water sports and sunbathing.
Vanuatu Has One Of The Most Active Volcanoes On Earth
Just over 109,000 tourists visited this island in the South Pacific in 2017. It's one of the world's prettiest spots with white sand beaches, crystal-clear water, and swaying palm trees. It also features Mount Yasur volcano, which is one of the most active volcanoes on earth.
On Pentecost Island, it's not uncommon to see the locals climb wooden towers that are 100 feet high and following a tradition known as Nagol or land diving. They jump into the air and are only protected by vines on their ankles.